ESTERO, Fla. – The Florida Everblades and Adirondack Thunder are set to begin the Eastern Conference final round tonight in Estero, Fla. It will be a matchup of two first-place teams, as both teams finished at the top of their respective divisions.
It will also be the first time in years either city has witnessed such a long playoff run. The last time the Everblades made it past the second round was in 2012 when they went on to win the Kelly Cup.
In their three years in the league, this is the first in which the Adirondack Thunder have made it to the conference final. When the team was located in Stockton, the Thunder advanced to the Kelly Cup Final but lost to the Reading Royals. The last time an Adirondack team made it past round two was 1992. That year, the Adirondack Red Wings (AHL) went on to win the Calder Cup.
Final Regular Season Records:
Florida Everblades: 53-13-2-4, 112 pts (Brabham Cup Champs — 1st in South Division, 1st in Eastern Conference)
Adirondack Thunder: 41-24-3-4, 89 pts (1st in North Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference)
Division Finals Results:
Florida Everblades: Defeated the Orlando Solar Bears in South Division final 4-1
Adirondack Thunder: Defeated the Manchester Monarchs in North Division final 4-2
Division Semifinals Results:
Florida Everblades: Swept the Atlanta Gladiators, 4-0
Adirondack Thunder: Eliminated the Worcester Railers, 4-2
Series Schedule (Home Team in CAPS):
Game 1 – Friday, May 11 – Adirondack at FLORIDA 7:30 pm ET
Game 2 – Saturday, May 12 – Adirondack at FLORIDA 7 pm ET
Game 3 – Wednesday, May 16 – Florida at ADIRONDACK 7 pm ET
Game 4 – Friday, May 18 – Florida at ADIRONDACK 7 pm ET
*Game 5 – Saturday, May 19 – Florida at ADIRONDACK 7 pm ET
*Game 6 – Monday, May 21 – Adirondack at FLORIDA 7:30 pm ET
*Game 7 – Wednesday, May 23 – Adirondack at FLORIDA 7:30 pm ET
*=> If Necessary
Season Series Recap:
The teams only faced off three times during the regular season. Adirondack fared well against first-place Florida, capturing five of a possible six points in those games. The games were close, with one ending in overtime, and another in a shootout. The Thunder’s Brian Ward led the way with four goals and three assists in the three games, while teammate Terrence Wallin followed close behind with three goals and three assists. Mathieu Brodeur and James Henry added five points apiece for Adirondack. For the Everblades, Joe Cox, Mitchell Heard, Justin Kea, and John McCarron picked up four points each.
How Florida Wins:
Continue to use starting goaltender Martin Ouellette, who ranks second in goals-against average, behind Adirondack’s injured Mackenzie Blackwood. Ouelette also ranks third in save percentage, behind Blackwood and his teammate Drew Fielding. Ouellette has not lost a game in the 2018 playoffs, going 7-0 in the first two rounds. He also has not given up more than two goals in a single game yet this postseason.
How Adirondack Wins:
Shut down former Thunder forwards Heard and Michael Kirkpatrick, who have a combined total of 11 goals and 24 points in the postseason. At the same time, the Thunder need to utilize lesser-known skaters, such as rookies Colton White, Ryan Schmelzer, and Mike Szmatula. The three have a combined total of 12 goals and 24 points in the first two rounds.